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INDEPENDENT LENS: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Airs Monday, February 25, 2013 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Ai Weiwei paints handcrafted porcelain sunflower seeds in Jingdezhen, China.

This acclaimed Emmy Award-winning anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. INDEPENDENT LENS features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history.

Courtesy of Never Sorry LLC

Ai Weiwei works on his computer in his Beijing home studio, as one of his dozens of cats looks on.

Courtesy of Never Sorry LLC

A foreign reporter photographs Ai Weiwei in front of the list of names of thousands of student earthquake victims, at his studio in Beijing.

Courtesy of Never Sorry LLC

Ai Weiwei (right) and art assistant Inserk Yang (left) inspect the construction of a new studio in Shanghai in 2010.

Courtesy of Never Sorry LLC

A protestor in New York City holds a sign about Ai Weiwei's disappearance in April 2011.

The series is supported by interactive companion Web sites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Acclaimed actor and filmmaker Stanley Tucci hosts the series.

"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" - Named by ArtReview as the most powerful artist in the world, Ai Weiwei is China's most celebrated contemporary artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic.

In April 2011, when Ai disappeared into police custody for three months, he quickly became China’s most famous missing person, having first risen to international prominence in 2008 after helping design Beijing’s iconic Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium — and then publicly denouncing the Games as party propaganda.

Since then, Ai Weiwei’s critiques of China’s repressive regime have ranged from playful photographs of his raised middle finger in front of Tiananmen Square to searing memorials to the more than 5,000 schoolchildren who died in shoddy government construction in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Against a backdrop of strict censorship, Ai has become a kind of Internet champion, using his blog and Twitter stream to organize, inform, and inspire his followers, becoming an underground hero to millions of Chinese citizens.

First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to the charismatic artist, as well as his family and others close to him, while working as a journalist in Beijing. In the years she filmed, government authorities shut down Ai’s blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention — while Time Magazine named him a runner-up for 2011’s Person of the Year.

Her compelling documentary portrait is the inside story of a passionate dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics.

Follow @aiww on Twitter. "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" is on Facebook, and you can follow @AWWNeverSorry on Twitter. INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter.

Video

Trailer: Independent Lens: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: http://video.kpbs.org/video/2315262044

Watch Artist and Activist Ai Weiwei's Muse is His Conscience on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Above: Ai Weiwei, arguably the most internationally celebrated Chinese artist of the modern era, burst onto the scene with vast conceptual installations — such as his eight million hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds inside the Tate Modern — and designed the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics. Learn about this inscrutable bearded visionary who, at heart, is a troublemaker with a serious agenda: to challenge the government’s oppression of the Chinese people through rebellious and irreverent gestures. His activism has cost him his freedom repeatedly, but he never seems to lose his childlike approach to serious dissidence, executed with a wink.

Video

Video Excerpt: Independent Lens: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: <noembed>Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: http://video.kpbs.org/video/2192082231

Watch Ai Weiwei Weaves Red Tape into Art on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

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